Integrate UX research throughout product development to positively impact business goals

Highlighting the need for a robust process of user research at all stages of development to ensure risk-free decisions.

The pandemic has pushed people, businesses, and experiences online at an unprecedented rate. During 2020, almost every business experienced greater demand as people looked for new ways to find information, entertainment, and shop for services and products.

Many companies are expanding their existing online channels and digital products, while others are moving online for the first time, trying to make up for lost offline income. This can, in some cases, lead to poorer experiences, as products can be rushed to market to match rapidly changing consumer needs.

With this digital acceleration likely to continue through 2021 and beyond, the strength of the user experience has become critical to whether a company succeeds or fails, and this is why we’re highlighting the need for a robust process of user research at all stages of development. To ensure you’re making something your customers actually need and therefore make confident risk-free design decisions.

In our recent webinar, Out of the flames: Seven digital experience lessons to inform your 2021 strategy, Dana Bishop, VP Research Partner at UserZoom, and Alfonso de la Nuez, our Co-founder and Co-CEO, took some of the learnings and analysis from our industry survey to provide some insight on the value of research being integrated throughout the product development lifecycle.

You can watch the full webinar on-demand now, but in the meantime, let’s look at a few of the key insights from our hosts...

UX research at every stage of development is important, but this doesn’t always happen

Making the most of UX research during the process of product development offers many advantages.

At an early stage, It enables teams to confirm the viability of products, to weed out bad ideas, or to transform good ideas into great ones.

Throughout the whole process, research can be used at various stages to test changes and make improvements so that the finished product arrives before customers as fully developed as possible.

From our recent survey UX 360: Demonstrating digital success, we see a widespread consensus for this approach. The vast majority of respondents understand the importance of UX research across the four stages of product development, right from discovery until after product launch.

These numbers also reflect the view that the earlier in the process that UX research is used, the more important it is. Deployed early, and throughout development, research can save a lot of time and resources that otherwise would have been wasted. 

Challenges in integrating UX research 

So, most people know what the ideal approach should be, but what are the obstacles to doing this effectively? 

Time, budget and resources were the top three obstacles identified by our respondents, problems possibly exacerbated by the need to develop digital products quickly over the past year. 

UX research can take time, and this is where good software and automation can lend a helping hand, ensuring that good UX research can happen even when some resources are strained and time is short. 

In this short video below, Cristine Cravens, User Research & Product Design Leader at Kroger, highlights the strengths of running 'Triple Track' Agile and how through the understanding, discovery and delivery stages, you can create reusable, scalable and sustainable solutions with greater customer value.

Integrating user research into the product process positively impacts business metrics

The positive effects of UX research can be shown, and are acknowledged by the majority of our respondents.

Showing how UX impacts business goals, and tracking KPIs is important for learning and improvement, and also in terms of proving the business case to key decision-makers within companies.

This positive impact can be shown in terms of customer retention, a reduction in customer service contacts, increases in sales and conversions, and much more.

From the survey results below, we see the greatest impact of UX in terms of customer satisfaction scores, fewer support and help requests, and more users and sales.

The key point here is the clear contrast between respondents whose companies have UX research well integrated into development processes and those that don’t. 

This chart shows significant differences between those two segments across all the measures that impact business performance. 

In summary

Challenging times highlight the importance of user experience. Products designed with the user in mind, thanks to processes that leverage research from start to finish are more likely to succeed in any environment, and especially so in the current climate. 

Even within product development processes which are forced to be faster than before, UX research, and the knowledge and insight gained from previous projects, can still make the difference. 

It may be tempting for some management to skip steps in order to speed up digital product development, and this is why key KPIs like those shown in this report are vital, as they prove just how UX and business performance are connected. 

Learn from the challenges 2020 presented

In this on-demand webinar, we’ve assembled a panel of digital experience experts who will guide you through the key takeaways from a year we would all like to forget and develop new strategies to ensure we’re not doomed to repeat it.